Archive | August, 2011

A New Chapter

29 Aug

I have been in Japan for 5 weeks already, stayed in 3 homes with different families, and am finally settling in on my own at 5-18 Katahoko higashimachi, Hirakata, Osaka, Japan, in Seminar House 3 of Kansai Gaidai University. I live in a suite with 10 girls who are all of different ages and come from different places with different interests. My room is small. In the middle there’s a tatami mat with two futon mattresses. Towards the window there are two desks, and on both sides of the door there is a closet. Although it’s small, it’s all I need for the next 4 months to sleep and study. I bought a used bike the other day for very cheap to help me get around. From the dorm, it’s a nice 10 minute bike ride to the campus. The campus is gorgeous! All of the buildings are red-brick and there’s a nice fountain in the middle of the grounds. We have a Seattle’s Best Coffee and a McDonald’s, three cafeterias, and a convenient store on campus. I tried the main cafeteria today. Zarusoba with vegetable tempura, mango pudding, and a cup of green tea cost me only 380 yen, and it was all delicious! Orientation begins on Wednesday, and I will take my Japanese Placement Test in the morning. We have our opening ceremony on Friday morning and a tour of Kyoto in the afternoon. Our classes will officially begin on Monday, September 4. I am looking forward to starting everything, meeting new people, making new friends, and learning Japanese. I feel like I can’t help but smile… I’m so happy to be here. I miss the company of my cousin and his wife. The time I spent with them will be a memory I will always hold on to. Their laughter and happiness was so contagious. It made me realize how smiling and laughter are all a part of the universal language. So, this is the start of my journey abroad… I’m calling it my new chapter in life. Thank you to everyone who has supported and continues to support me! I appreciate it and the encouraging words! I miss everyone at home so much, but I will be home in January! It will come before you know it! And I bet I won’t be ready for it… to leave. I love it here in Japan, my second home. It feels good to be home

Mount Takao

14 Aug


Today, I climbed Mt. Takao. It was a little crowded because it’s the weekend. But it was a really good experience. The view from the top of the mountain was beautiful! Hiking down the mountain there was a stream next to the trail. The sound of the water flowing gave me a good feeling. It felt like a dream. It was so peaceful. The stream is always forward moving. I want my life to become like a stream. Always pushing forward.



The New Things:

* Hiking alone *

* Saying “Konichiwa” to strangers (seemed to be customary when passing people on the mountain) *

* Listening to NEWS *

Trying New Things.

13 Aug

               I have usually been fairly open about trying new things. When I moved to Japan when I was 8 years old I was kind of forced to try food I never would have imagined eating in the U.S. My dad convinced me that if I didn’t try it I would never know if I liked it or not. So, even things that didn’t sound terribly appealing to me, such as eel, octopus, and raw fish, I tried. And I ended up loving all of them! I have even tried foie gras (goose liver) and escargot (snail) when I visited Paris, but I was not a fan. How was I to know if I never tried it though? As I got older I grew more accustomed to drawing a line at a certain place, and I ate only what I was used to. In Shanghai, earlier this summer, I wouldn’t even try eating some of the popular items there, such as chicken feet or fish heads. I was sure they would be disgusting and I wouldn’t like them, so why bother, right?

Just this past week I’ve tried things I never thought I would want to eat in my life. We went out to yakiniku where you cook your own meat one night and I actually tried tongue, cow’s tongue. It actually didn’t taste much different than any other part of a cow, and was rather tasty! Last night, my friends and I went out to dinner. It was their last night in Tokyo and they wanted to eat a yakitori place. One of them decided to order ‘hearts,’ sure that it wasn’t actually chicken hearts. Yet, when it came out, sure enough, they were hearts. You could actually tell by how it looked. He tried it, though, because we had ordered it, and he said it was really good. I figured I might as well since we were paying for it, and it actually was Really good! I was so surprised! We all ended up liking it, and ordered two more sticks!

My motto this trip will be: TRY EVERYTHING (legally). I don’t want to miss out on things, not just food, but also going places and doing new activities, because I’m too scared or uncomfortable. I don’t want to miss out on having the experience of a lifetime. I’ll keep you all posted!


11 Aug

August 11th. Today is my mother’s birthday. I won’t tell you how old (young) she is… she would kill me. But I will tell you that she is the best mother I could have ever asked for, and that I am truly blessed.

I’m far away today. She’s in New York and I’m in Japan. I was thinking about how I’d like to get her something, but my mom’s a bit picky… not to say that she wouldn’t appreciate from the bottom of her heart anything that I got her, but I’d say she has her standards and some really expensive taste, which is hard when I’m a poor college student. While wandering around Tokyo today I came to think about my mom and the places we used to wander around when we lived here: Shibuya, Hiroo, Omotesando, Ginza. We didn’t explore too much. I think we became creatures of habit, going only to the places we knew we liked to eat and shop at. I wish we had gone exploring. My mom hates getting lost, though. Maybe now we could enjoy the adventure of it, but I think back then we would have easily gotten into a fight. I remember we used to fight a lot, my mom and I. Over really dumb things, on my part. I would say something sarcastic or have an attitude when I said things that drove my mom crazy, which upset me, and we’d end up in this awful cycle and mad at each other for part of our little outing. I wish I hadn’t been such a little brat then, that I would have been more appreciative of my mom and the little time I got to spend with her on the weekends. I wish I hadn’t wasted time not talking to her because I was mad at her for telling me I had an attitude when I clearly did.

I know now the gift I wish to give my mother… obedience and respect. My mom always tells me stories of how she would never talk back to her mom when she was younger, and still doesn’t, and they have such a great relationship now. The useless bickering hurts both parties involved, and both are usually too full of pride to say they were at fault first. I have such respect for my mom. She is so hardworking and always putting the family first. She is putting my brother and I through school, and even willing to help pay for my medical school so I don’t have to deal with loans. She started work as soon as she was legal to, and even put herself through college, working all through the night. I wish I could have half that drive and passion. I am so grateful for everything she has given me and provided me with. I truly am so so blessed. So, today, on my mother’s 29th birthday (just kidding, she isn’t 29… I’m almost 21, that’d be weird. She used to tell me to tell everyone that she was 29 years old when I was younger, though.) I promise to respect my mother, and not give her attitude or talk back to her. It may seem trivial, and something I should have worked on a long time ago, and I have. But I still catch myself in the act every once in a while, and I feel terrible thinking about how much it hurts my mom and how it was completely unnecessary on my part.

I still see friends fighting with their parents, not getting along, and it makes me sad because I know how much the parents must care about their kids and how they really only want what is best for him/her, and how much the kids must care for their parents but are still in a rebellious independent stage where they think they don’t need their parents to tell them what to do anymore. I think that must have been me… wanting to be free. I know, though, that I don’t always make the best decisions, and that my parents do really want what is best for me. It has taken me a while to come to this conclusion, unfortunately. For a while, I was convinced they were only saying that but had their own agenda. I have never been more mistaken in my life. I think living in the U.S. for so long rubbed off on me, making me think I should make my own decisions and not care what my parents wanted me to do because it was my life, not theirs. But if I think about the Eastern philosophy and the way both of my parents were raised, I think that makes more sense… Respecting authority, your parents. Thinking about how your decisions affect others, not just yourself. My future is not just my own. It matters also to my parents because they raised me and provided for me. I shouldn’t just think of myself.

I hope my mom knows how much I love her, admire her, respect her, and miss her. I wish I could be there to celebrate her birthday with her.

I love you so much, Mom! Happy Birthday!!


7 Aug

No wonder most Japanese seem to be more polite and have better morals than others nowadays, their dramas actually teach lessons about life and how to be a good person, instead of showing us how to be arrogant, rude, narcissistic, and ‘independent’ like most of the dumb shows on American television these days. I am so sick of the reality TV shows that corrupt the lives of what would be normal or relatively normal teenage kids. It pains me that people find that watching others struggle in their life is funny and entertaining. Why do there need to be shows like “16 and Pregnant”? Why can’t the new parents be allowed to live peacefully and raise their child in a good environment? All of the drama that is in their lives is practically pushed on them because they are being watched on national television. Who wants to watch a normal happy family with no problems and no fights? And what are kids being taught when they watch shows like “Gossip Girl” or “Desperate Housewives”? That it’s cool to be a bitch. It’ll make you popular. You’ll have power if you’re pretty. It’s okay for you to cheat on your spouse or significant other. I don’t understand the point of these shows. They show kids to be rebellious and fight for their independence. But they don’t teach them to appreciate their parents, respect authority, and be loyal to your friends. It’s sad that this is what American culture has come to, and how the young generation is being taught. If this is still how it is when I have children I swear I will not own a television. It really scares me how much power the media has over children’s lives these days. I know because it has influenced me too. I wish I could have these Japanese dramas all made into popular American shows and movies so that people would understand right from wrong, good from bad, justice from injustice, truth, loyalty, respect, honor, love.

“Everyone wants to run away when there’s trouble… Even when something bad happens, you have to pick yourself up and keep going. Isn’t that what life is?” – Gokusen

“If you can’t trust someone, you can’t gain trust from that person in return.” – Gokusen

“Don’t disappoint the people who believe in you.” – Atashinchi no Danshi

“A person with no will to fight will never be happy.” – Mei-chan no Shitsuji

“If at least one person knows the truth, that’s enough” – Nobuta wo Produce

Saying Goodbyes. Parting Ways.

5 Aug

I have said my share of goodbyes in my lifetime…

There are different kinds of ‘goodbye.’  There’s the “I’ll see you again soon!”- goodbye that you say to close friends and family whom you will come back to, the “I’ll see you around”-goodbye for acquaintances in an awkward moment of parting whom you might bump into in class or at a party, and then there’s the “… I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again”-goodbye for those who you’ve come into contact with for a short period of time and will be leaving indefinitely.

Before leaving for Japan I said bye to my parents, brother, grandmother, and friends from school and home, knowing that I will see them again when I come home in January. It was a bittersweet goodbye as I looked forward to my adventure abroad, but knew I would miss my friends and family at home. It was a comforting goodbye, though, because I knew they were all anxious and excited for me too.

Today, I had to say goodbye to my Peacocks, my girls, at the last day of camp. All day I tried to avoid thinking about the fact that I will most likely never see these girls again. They are such an amazing group of girls, and I feel so blessed to have met them all. But for these past two weeks they have been a shining light in my life. They were what got me to up and going so early on these summer mornings, and what kept me awake and running through the day. Their positive energy was contagious. I will really miss going to work and seeing them. I feel like I really made a connection with some of them. At the end of the day, after our closing ceremonies when they were all heading toward the buses a bunch of the girls held on to me not wanting to let go. I was so touched. I gave them all my e-mail address so hopefully we can keep in touch, but that’s just being optimistic. Realistically, a lot of them probably don’t even have e-mail accounts, but I’ll keep holding on to my bit of hope. I will get a new set of girls come this Monday for the next session of camp that I will have to say goodbye to in two weeks again, and it will probably be just as sad. But it’s a fact of life. People come and go in and out of each other’s lives. It’s not pointless or meaningless, these interactions. They have impacted me. And, who knows? Maybe I’ve touched their life too somehow. That’s all I can really hope for.